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Penticton  

Fighting to keep rural buses

A provincially-funded private bus company could be in the future in B.C. to help Greyhound keep rural bus routes running.

Greyhound is asking for written support from the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, as the company plans to apply for subsidized funding from the provincial government.

The request is in response to a number of board members who wrote letters urging Greyhound not to cut its routes through the Similkameen.

Keremeos mayor and RDOS vice-chair Manfred Bauer emphasized the need for some sort of provincial funding to enhance rural transportation, and noted he has spoken to Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson on the matter.

He added that asking for funding for transportation is as appropriate as other rural initiatives, such as funding for education and operating public facilities.

Oliver mayor Ron Hovanes said he's wary about Greyhound's route priorities, having dealt with the bus company in the past when his town had bus routes slashed.

"Greyhound has never listened to community conversations about their needs, and special needs for seniors in small rural communities," he said. 

Electoral Area F director Michael Brydon pointed out that the regional district may be better off working with the already publicly-funded B.C. Transit to improve rural transportation.

In an earlier presentation done by B.C. Transit, officials pointed out that ridership is increasing through the region for the urban bus service.

"Let’s talk about subsidized rural transportation now as a provincial responsibility with one boss in one direction," Brydon said, noting private companies like Greyhound are "competing, but not coordinating" with other companies.

RDOS staff will bring more information to board members in January on what devising a draft letter to the province's Passenger Transportation Board would look like.

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